The experience of Christians in Nigeria, Syria, and Iraq in recent months has highlighted the persecution faced by many Christians around the world. In fact, it has been estimated that over 100 million Christians face persecution each year, with over 80% of global religious persecution targeting Christians.  Many of these believers refuse to stand in silence for the name of Christ and, as a result, suffer physically and mentally for their faith.
This coming week allows the global Christian community to focus on the persecuted church through an intensified focus on prayer. (More information can be found at http://idop.org/en/.) How might we seek to participate in and respond to this in the affluent, Christian West?
We can stand with the persecuted church through connecting with relevant, participating agencies such as Open Doors, Bible League, Voice of the Martyrs, Barnabas Fund, and Christian Faith and Freedom.
We can pray for them regularly. Amongst other things, we can pray for those who are experiencing persecution to have courage, as Paul enjoined the Ephesians to do for him in Ephesians 6:19.
We can advocate for them in the public square, which is even more important when secularization impacts the worldview of Western societies and limits the human response to their plight.
We can learn from them about courage, especially going into a Christmas season when the pressure to remove aspects of the Christian message and replace these with the St Nick/Santa narrative continues to intensify.
May we not be bystanders who stand in silence, but instead practically respond to the challenge of Hebrews 13:1, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”